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Dental health is a very important part of your pet’s overall health, and dental problems can cause, or be caused by, other health problems. Your pet’s teeth and gums should be checked at least once a year by your veterinarian to check for early signs of a problem and to keep your pet’s mouth healthy.

What is pet dental disease?

Dental or periodontal disease affects the teeth, gums and the support structures that surround your pet’s teeth. It begins with a simple plaque buildup on the tooth enamel which contain bacteria and food particles. If the plaque is not addressed, it remains on the tooth surface and eventually hardens into tartar. When tartar is above the gum line, our veterinary team can remove it relatively easily during a professional dental cleaning. On the other hand, tartar below the gumline causes inflammation and not only damages the structures supporting the teeth but also causes infection. If dental disease reaches this stage, pets can experience severe dental problems and pain.

What are warning signs of oral pain?

Detecting oral pain in our pets can be a challenge. That’s because they are good at hiding any outward signs that would indicate they are in pain. Therefore, we need to be able to pick up on subtle clues to recognize when our pets are dealing with tooth pain and take a proactive approach to minimize the pain. Common signs include bad breath, drooling, decreased appetite, favoring one side of mouth when chewing, inflammation, redness, bleeding, and more.

What can I do at home?

Prevention of the most common oral disease in pets consists of frequent removal of the dental plaque and tartar that forms on teeth. Regularly brushing your pet’s teeth is the single most effective thing you can do to keep their teeth healthy between dental cleanings, and may reduce the frequency or even eliminate the need for periodic dental cleaning by your veterinarian. Most dogs accept brushing, but cats can be a bit more resistant so patience and training are important.